President Obama's State of the Union speech closed with a truly uniting moment when he honored the sacrifice of Army Ranger Cory Remsburg. Sergeant Remsburg bravely fought for our country through 10 tours of duty. Too bad House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) ensured that division was the name of the game only hours later.
Rep. Hoyer attacked Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who delivered the GOP response to the State of the Union. Ignoring her stature in the GOP and her intellectual acumen, he instead reduced her solely to her gender, calling her a "transparent" choice to give the state of the union and claiming she was chosen simply because the GOP wanted to have a "a woman give their response."
Ignoring the Democratic Party's diversity deficit on the gubernatorial level, let's focus on Rep. Hoyer's demeaning comments about women. Rep. Hoyer basically said that all Rep. McMorris Rodgers offers is her gender.
That's about the most sexist thing anyone could say.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is, as Rep. Hoyer dismissively noted, "pleasant," and "gives a good appearance," but she is also well-educated (she has an MBA from her state's leading university), respected for her knowledge and judgment (she is Conference Chair of the House GOP) and a serious legislator whose achievements are widely recognized. It is remarkable to me that in an era when women have accomplished so much Rep. Hoyer would denigrate a working mother who is a role-model for millions of American women - and men, as well.
While I long ago gave up trying to understand how others in the Democratic Party have gotten away with speaking for "all women," Rep. Hoyer's comments regarding a respected leader of the opposing party are among the most maddening I've ever heard from the Hill. Perhaps his lengthy tenure in Washington has left him thinking women like Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rosa DeLauro and Barbara Mikulski are mainstream. To the rest of the country, they definitely are not.
I watched the State of the Union as well as the response, and did so with other women. We were appalled, not by Rep. McMorris Rodgers, but by the failed policies our president continued to advocate. His health policies, which are bringing big government into every facet of our lives, concern us deeply. The regulations that are strangling job creation, the cultural changes being forced upon the citizenry, the attempts to limit religious liberties - these worry us, and are worthy of polite, political discussion.
I also watched testimony on the House floor regarding H.R. 7, a bill that would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, keeping our tax dollars out of the abortion business. This legislation has the support of 60 percent of Americans. During debate, numerous strong, articulate Republican women stood in defense of the American taxpayer. Sadly, while H.R. 7 has nothing to do with stopping private healthcare coverage with abortion, Democrat after Democrat desperately clung to the lie that it does - and all but a handful voted against the wishes of the people because of it. This even as Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) repeatedly read the bill on the House Floor to show that it only blocks taxpayer subsidies for abortion-covering insurance. Private plans can still cover abortion.
Women like Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Blackburn reflect the majority of women in America on this issue. As a gentleman, I would expect Rep. Hoyer to look for common ground with them because of it.
Perhaps Rep. Hoyer is simply not in touch with the electorate. In that case, I would happily make myself available to him and his staff, to educate them on where Americans stand on the issue of government funding of abortion.
The Democratic Party has long claimed the mantle of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King. But Rep. Hoyer, by judging Rep. McMorris Rodgers on her gender rather than her accomplishments, clearly chose to ignore King's dream.
If he needs a refresher course on this sort of thing, I'd be happy to provide it - from a woman's perspective, of course.